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Navy May End Civilian Visitor Program

Sixteen civilians from five states were on the Greeneville for what was to be a six-hour excursion south of Oahu on Feb. 9. Most of the guests were in the crowded control room when the sub began its rapid ascent immediately prior to the collision.

The crash sank the Japanese fishing trawler the Ehime-Maru within minutes and left nine men and boys missing and presumed drowned.

Although investigators have minimized the role the civilian guests played in the crash, many military experts say the current system will have to be changed.

“The program of distinguished visitors on submarines is certainly dead for the foreseeable future — not because they had any direct contribution to this, but it just doesn’t look good,” Gary Solis, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel and judge advocate who teaches military law at West Point, told the Associated Press.

The final decision on the civilian program is one of the many issues the three Navy admirals must address as the court of inquiry continues into the accident. The court must also decide if the sub’s commander, Scott Waddle, and two other officers should face court martial.

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